Chapter 5 

UFOlogy—A Delineation


            Although UFOlogy has a definite function to perform, it is not a science, and should not have to be a science to perform this function. The fact is that few so-called UFOlogists are scientists, and few have sufficient knowledge of scientific techniques to enable them to provide scientific conclusions. What UFOlogy is, and what it should be, can best be determined by examining the reasons for its existence at all. Once this is done, it will be easier to note the chasm between what UFOlogy is and what it should (or could) be. Then ways and means for bridging the chasm can be worked out.

            Why is there a groping study of UFOs which goes under the name of "UFOlogy?" One reason which appears to be common to all schools of thought within UFOlogy is dissatisfaction with "Official" investigation and its conclusions. The individual reasons for dissatisfaction, however, are as varied as the personality types represented. Some are dissatisfied because their pet "theories" are not considered proven beyond a doubt by UFOs. These "theories", for the most part, correspond to the preconceptions of the individuals who hold them. Others, on more rational grounds, are dissatisfied because they detect the prejudices of the "official" investigators and the unscientific nature of the "official" investigation.

            How, then, do UFOlogists attempt to alleviate this dissatisfaction? What form does the attempt for satisfaction take? UFOlogy might accurately be called a protest movement, since protest is the factor common to all schools of thought which are loosely bundled under the one name. However, it is my contention that "UFOlogy" is a misnomer as long as rabid, anti-scientific elements remain under the same roof.  


To be sure, there are many schools of thought within a given science, but all these schools have in common the use of scientific methods in gathering, analyzing, and theorizing about evidence. Disputes about particulars are inevitable, but the use of scientific methods is basic, and only evidence allegedly obtained through scientific techniques is admitted to the arena at all.

            As it now stands, UFOlogy does not even meet this basic requirement of a science. UFOlogy is largely a collection of small, unorthodox newspapers which (on the whole) turn out "scientific" conclusions quite arbitrarily; weird "reform" organizations which insist that UFOs mean we should prepare for the end of the world, a "new age, " a cataclysmic upheaval, or what-have-you; and small groups, clubs, and units of people who sit around discussing UFOs as if they were something to be worshipped rather than studied. This aggregate can scarcely be called a neo-science. The "membership" includes religious fanatics and psychopaths as well as astute critics and professional scientists.

            UFOlogy exists in its present form primarily because science and officialdom have failed to do their jobs. It is a stop­gap movement in protest against this failure, and against the underlying reasons for the failure. A good case can be made for the claim that scientific and bureaucratic orthodoxy, in making paternalism and secrecy the keynote of public information policy, are behind the present confusion about UFOs. The increasing entanglement of science with government is causing science to tend fearfully away from democratic practices, as paradoxical as this may sound.

            The fact of the matter is that, for a so-called democratic society, there is very little information available from governmental sources on any subject. The "fact sheet" approach, familiar to those who have written the Air Force about UFOs, is common practice; and the so-called "fact sheets" ordinarily contain little but useless generalizations reflecting the policy line of the current administration. Since a large share of modern science in this country is governmental, science has, unfortunately, tended to adopt information policies and practices of a similarly secretive nature. The resulting dearth of vital information is intolerable, and in the sense that UFOlogy is a fight for freedom of information, it is a very democratic movement. 


            The present existence of UFOlogy can be traced, ultimately to a breakdown in the scientific spirit, and a political tendency away from democracy; hence the political and philosophical overtones to the writings of UFOlogy. The enemies of the scientific spirit have found a popular subject which enables them to deliver their anti-scientific tirades, and to advocate various mystical doctrines as the answer to all problems, including UFOs. The advocates of the scientific spirit, appalled by the politicalization of science and the resurgence of mysticism, find themselves the numerical and spiritual underdogs, fighting for the continuance of scientific enlightenment. In some cases the gripes about undemocratic practices are being perverted by those of other political persuasions to gripes against democracy itself, and we find "UFO" organizations advocating something akin to the Communist line through the medium-ship of "space men.

            In my opinion the function of UFOlogy is to advocate the scientific spirit as the only feasible approach to UFOs. In order to progress beyond its present stage it will have to draw the battle lines clearly, either eliminating unscientific elements from the fold, or completely dissociating itself from the present connotations of "UFOlogy" and taking a new name altogether. It should oppose, with equal fervor, both the bastardization of science in government and the ghosts of the mystical past which have arisen to haunt the subject. Neither the glib mystical solutions nor the misleading official announcements should be tolerated.

            Although the ranks of UFOlogy contain the seeds of a science, it should not now pretend to be a science but a popular movement advocating scientific investigation. It can do (and has done) some laying of foundations for scientific study, especially in the fields of data-gathering and classifying. It should (and could) clarify and present the factual evidence in a manner designed to encourage a true scientific investigation which would make use of all the techniques and facilities available to science today. Until UFOlogy has as its image the scientific spirit, it will not attract scientists. Until it attracts scientists, it will not be a science. Until it is a science, it will not provide the answers about UFOs. If UFOlogy is unable to become a science on its own, it has to persuade orthodox scientists to investigate UFOs. In either case, it must eliminate the unscientific elements which have obscured the issue. 

R. H.